Not Our Heritage

Like many of us, I’ve been wondering what I should say since I woke up Thursday morning to the news of the latest gun massacre, this time, in Charleston, South Carolina.

I often feel like I’m beating a dead horse here at FiftyFourAndAHalf.  Do you really need me to go off on another rant about sensible gun laws?  I didn’t think so.

Still.

There is plenty of outrage on so many levels  with this latest shooter.  The deed itself.  The fact that he sat in church with his victims for an hour and then killed them.  The after-the-fact suspicions of his friends that he had been planning this for a while and nobody spoke up.

There is plenty of outrage with the idiotic reactions on the part of just about every member of the GOP, particularly their presidential candidates. They stammer.  They point the blame on other things — Rick Santorum says it’s a “War on Christians” (huh?); Rick Perry says it was the fault of Big Pharma (huh?).  Jeb! says he just doesn’t know if racism played a part — in spite of the words of the shooter that he wanted to start a race war.

But I save my greatest outrage for Senator Lindsay Graham.  He hemmed and hawed at first.  And then he said it.

“The Confederate Flag,” Senator Graham said,  “is who we are.”

And you know what?  Lindsay Graham is nothing if not consistent.  Worse, he speaks for a whole swath of folks who still believe in the principles of the Confederacy.  Who believe in the symbol of the Confederacy, the Stars and Bars.  The symbol of slavery, of racism, of bigotry.  The symbol of resistance to integration.  The symbol of hate.

Senator Graham speaks for folks who didn’t get the news:

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These folks have clung to their racist beliefs.  Their strong belief held fast in the 150 years since the Confederacy lost, in the mistaken idea that African-Americans, blacks, Negros, colored folks (depending on the era we’re talking about) weren’t “created equal.”

With all I’ve read in the last two days, one article, The Confederacy is Not Our Heritage, really struck home with me.

First, Mr. Sumner put to rest the lie that the states seceded over “States’ Rights”:

The Confederacy was launched not on a platform of slavery, but on a foundation of racism. That it maintained slavery as an institution was a feature. That it upheld racism was the design. Read the words of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, speaking at the Athenaeum in Savannah, Georgia:

The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. … Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong.  They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races.  This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.

. . . look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgement of the truths upon which our system rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws.

So much for States’ Rights.  That, like the Glory of the South (and proclamation that “The South Shall Rise Again!”) is a myth, belied by these words.

The author grew up in Kentucky surrounded by the vestiges of the Civil War.  Here in my adopted state of Virginia, they surround me as well.  But they are not the vestiges of a defeat and the lessons that should have been learned from it.  No, they proclaim the heroism of the Generals, the glory of the battles, the fierceness of the Rebel yell.  Here in Virginia, there is a state holiday in January — Lee-Jackson Day.  A couple hours south of here is the Stonewall Jackson Shrine.  All proclaim the glory of the Civil War, as if it, and the reasons behind it, were — and still are — worth fighting for.

If you don’t know the history of who won and who lost, well, you’re not going to find it in the South.

As Mr. Sumner says:

The Confederacy is not my heritage. It’s not anyone’s heritage. The Confederacy is our shame.

[…]

Is it part of our history? Yes, it is, to our everlasting shame. It’s a part of our history the same way that the apartheid state is a part of South African history. It’s a part of our history the same way that the Nazi Reich is a part of German history. It’s a part of our history that should embarrass us.

It’s the part of our history in which traitors who not only didn’t believe in the American union, but also didn’t believe in the basic ideals of America, formed a state whose core was nothing less than pure racism.

It should be no more acceptable to wave a Confederate flag in the United States than it is to fly a swastika. No more acceptable to proclaim yourself sympathetic to the Confederate cause than to proclaim yourself a supporter of ISIS. There is no moral difference. None. These are the banners of the enemies of our nation and of our ideals—enemies whose existence is based on inequality and subjugation.

President Obama is right.  It’s time to put the Stars and Bars in a museum.  It’s time to end the hate.

61 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Bat-shit crazy, Beating that Dead Horse, Campaigning, Cancer on Society, Crazy Folks Running, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, GOP, Gun control, History, Huh?

61 responses to “Not Our Heritage

  1. The Confederate Flag is who we are?? How to people so stupid become so wealthy?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only thing that heartened me on this South Carolina incident was the march on Sunday with so many white people. We have to stop making these racially-fueled incidents about black vs. white. Instead they must become about those who want peaceful solutions to our problems (no matter what our skin color) vs. the violent among us. This hatred affects all of us. We all must act against it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Finally catching up (again). Perfectly stated, as always. I had a link to that speech but simply couldn’t stomach using it. I am now and continue to be stunned by the level at which some who would be President will go to avoid saying what this attack was, Huckabee was on meet the press this week, his rambling mess was enlightening only if you want to listen to someone run fast and hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elyse – Fantastic post as always. You know we are on the same team. We’ve discussed these issues so many times before. Back in the day, were you in the crowd somewhere when we did the poor peoples march on Washington (it didn’t solve anything – they never do).
    We have to get this business of gun control taken care of and fast. Unfortunately the leverage behind Sandy Hook hasn’t been enough to do it and neither has Gifford’s efforts. What’s it going to take before this nation understands not everyone can have or needs a gun of any type – not even an air gun!
    At this rate, we will all own weapons and the day will come when we each will turn a gun on another because we don’t know who our enemy is. Who wants to kill us first and for what reason?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri, I have been to several marches — but I’m not sure I know the one you mean. My health hasn’t allowed it for a while, though. I did march, with my then young nephew, on the 20th Anniversary of the I have a Dream speech.

      I wish I knew what it will take to get sensible gun control laws on the books. None of the things that come to mine would I repeat for fear of them coming true!

      Everybody owning firearms is the ultimate goal of the NRA — that’s how they make their money for the arms dealers. Isn’t that a terrifying prospect?

      Lord, help us!

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  5. It is WAY past time to end the hate. This was an unbelievable tragedy. The only positive thing to come out of it was the instant outpouring of love and solidarity by people of every color and faith. At first – at the very first – we were one people, united in our sadness and outrage that someone would do something so horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Peg. Such a sad, sad thing. Made even more poignant by the forgiveness of the relatives.

      We should all be on the same side on this one. Humanity requires it of us.

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  6. A commenter on an article about the NY Times’ inability to get GOP Presidential candidate reaction to the Confederate flag issue said it was like turning a light on and watching the cockroaches scurry for a dark corner. Divisive language like that never helps but it sure feels good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m hoping this will prove a turning point, at least in terms of the flag. Racism, has been part of politics for ever. It has well camouflaged in the GOP since Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and Reagan launched his 1 980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Civil Rights Workers were murdered (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39345-2004Jun13.html). It has been part of their strategy since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act.

      You’d think we’d grow up as a nation, wouldn’t you?

      Like

  7. Let’s put the flag away and focus our energies into the causes of gun violence in the first place. This debate is just taking up too much time and resources that could be spent on doing something much more productive.

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    • This appeared as a response to another commenter. Oy. It takes a bit of my sarcasm out!

      I wish we could just focus on the guns and the gun violence. Hey maybe we should enact some common sense gun laws? Nah, that’ll never happen. It makes too much sense.

      But I fear with this Congress they will never get anything productive done. Never.

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      • It’s going to take a multi-pronged approach. Not only do we have to deal with gun laws, but we have to deal with the mental health crisis in the U.S. because 60% of gun deaths are from suicide. We also have to deal with the systemic racism in this country. We also have a drug problem which is where a lot of the other gun deaths come from, which is also a poverty issue too.

        In other words, there are a whole mess of overlapping issues along with the guns that need to be addressed.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been a way for a while… overseas, and this story wasn’t that pronounced over there. Got back today, and wham. What a horrific thing. Jon Stewart did an awesome piece on this.

    I don’t understand your country. I think it’s the greatest country in the world, to tell the truth, but it’s as though some don’t want that to be true for all. It’s like some memorialize and think fondly of days when they by virtue of the colour of their skin could stand above others – as though that is the correct course of the world. I can’t tell if the US is sinking under its guilt or plunging straight into hell.

    I loved Rick Perry’s reaction. That guy sounds really lame. In fact, they all sound kind of lame. Can’t we just start a new country? Why don’t we call it North America, and we’ll take the best parts of your Constitution and the best parts of our charters, and smush them together. And we won’t leave anyone out, not even the really poor or the really downtrodden or the alterna-colour. A boy can dream…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your trip back to the UK? I hope you write about it!

      Actually, I can’t believe they weren’t talking about it. Whenever guns comes up in any way shape or form, it seems they shake their collective heads. Adding racism to the mix? Icing.

      Rick Perry is a moron, as are most of the contenders. And I think a new country, joining the progressive states with Canada would be great. Of course, now that I’ve said it, I can never run for office here in my Homeland … But I’d want to leave behind the South and the right-wing bits of the middle. And Texas.

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      • I will write about it, maybe show some photos… it was a blast. Elyse, take this to the bank – if you ran for President/Prime Minister/Supreme Leader of the combined North America, I would be first in line to vote for you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Awwww, shucks, you might start a Trend … I don’t have the health or stamina to run for office. But then I don’t know any good folks anymore who can stand being under that microscope.

          I can’t wait to read about your homecoming!

          Like

  9. Well said, Elyse. Just yesterday a friend’s husband posted on Facebook urging people to STOP blaming the flag, etc and cited this little nugget which reads to me that it’s okay if the US does it but not anyone else. Now I have PTSD and am fog brained much of the time but that’s my interpretation today and yesterday. So agree with all you’ve said. I don’t live in the US but Canada could stand to learn a thing or two in this area as well. Here’s what he (a US resident) posted above the Nazi flag and the Confederate Flag pictured side by side. (I wanted to say something to it but I didn’t know exactly what or how):
    “One rounded up millions of people just because they were Jewish and systematically murdered them, while the other FORBADE the further importation of negro slaves to America. Research and educate yourselves people. The Confederate Flag does NOT! represent racism!!! Stop This Now!
    Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.”

    Like

    • The law you speak of was enacted in 1808, but it only forbade the IMPORTATION of slaves. It didn’t abolish slavery. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_Prohibiting_Importation_of_Slaves)

      Slave owners were still permitted to own humans, to sell them, to beat them, to work them to death, to breed them. That law was at best a baby step in the right direction; it is hardly grounds to pat anyone on the back for taking it. And it would be interesting to see how members of Congress from southern and northern states voted.

      The Confederate flag was a battle flag carried by Confederate soldiers into battle. It vanished after the Civil War, but pops up periodically in times when there is racial tension. Most recently, it popped up in the South in response to the actions in the early 1960s that resulted in integration, the Civil Rights Act and a more active, vocal black population that racists were mighty unhappy to see in their towns and their schools. It has been used to intimidate blacks, pure and simple. That flag represents racism. Anybody who says otherwise needs to read some books — or Google the damn thing. But many pretend it is just a symbol of southern pride, of belief in “States’ Rights.” They are ignorant at best.

      Your friend needs to “Research and educate” himself.

      Like

      • Thank you, Elyse, I knew you would clarify best for me and I agree with you, he knows not what he speaks of. Sadly, this is the fodder churned out by many online and there is no one to stop them. Much like the politician situation. Nothing seems to stop them either. Thanks again, wise soul ❤️❤️❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  10. And how many times do we hear the GOP say that white people are the ones in danger of losing this country and their rights? Did you watch Jon Stewart’s show about this? He couldn’t/wouldn’t do a regular show. No jokes that night. He was depressed and dismayed and disgusted and all the “dis” words. Me, too. He said, basically, that we should be just as afraid (if not more so) of domestic terrorist acts (like this one) as we are of foreign terrorism and willing to spend as much on stopping this crazy shit we do to our people. But be don’t because, in the South, that Confederate Flag flies proudly as a statement against everything rational, humane, and equal that this country is supposed to stand for. I hope Lindsay Graham is reborn as a black woman in Alabama…

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    • That is a great justice. But I’m hoping that in this life he is pushed out of the closet — I am fairly positive that he’s gay (one of the memes I saw was one that said “so deep in the closet he can see Narnia”)

      I agree with you about the other stuff. Lots of folks in the south pretend it doesn’t matter, that the folks who are offended need to “get over it.” Instead, I think the need to get over the glory of the confederacy.

      Like

  11. Can you hear me sighing from over here, Elyse? I am. Again. With embarrassment and at a loss as to what to say when yet again someone looks at me in horror and asks, “Wtf is wrong with your country?”.

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    • The gun massacres didn’t happen with such disturbing regularity when I was overseas — but I do recall trying to explain our gun laws to Europeans. It is especially hard to explain something when you don’t fully understand it and when you feel it is so incredibly stupid — and senseless.

      But this love of the Confederacy and all it stood for is institutionalized hate. We need to do something about that. Take down the flags. Educate. Improve our economy so that the haters have less fear and then can hate less.

      So much to do … so little likelihood any of it will get done.

      So very sad and stupid.

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      • Agree. And agree. And agree again. You shouldn’t hide your past, but President Obama is right, it’s time for the Confederate Flag to be placed in history, in a museum–not as a rallying cry.

        Like

  12. It’s all so sad..

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  13. Thanks for including Sumner’s words and the link to the article. I think he stated things well. As for Jeb Bush saying he doesn’t know if racism played a part…really? After what the guy did? After the evidence of hate on his FB page? After the words he has allegedly said in the past? I don’t think the writing on the wall could be any clearer.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I like the eloquence of both your message and Sumner’s. Most of those who fought for the Confederacy were unable to afford slaves. Slaves actually were competition for them in terms of jobs and wages. After all, it’s hard to compete against those who work for free. I can only imagine that they were fighting not so much to preserve slavery, but to preserve their status in society as a notch higher than the lowest of the low.

    Like

  15. Thank you, Elyse, for airing this out again. Don’t stop, please. You are right. They are wrong. We need to put that past forever away and lock the closet.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Paul

    Well said Elyse.

    Like

  17. I love your tags. It is definitely time to end the hate, way past time.

    Liked by 1 person

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